LibLink: Kirsty William: It’s not about whether we charge tuition fees. In Wales, we’ve found a third way

The one Liberal Democrat left in national government, Kirsty Williams, has written an article for the Guardian in which she sets out what she is introducing in Wales – a plan to help students with living costs which will support part time and postgraduate students too:

The new support package in Wales will cover those who start their course in 2018/19, wherever in the UK they choose to study. Every student will be entitled to support equivalent to the national living wage. This means that eligible full-time students will receive maintenance support of £11,250 if they study in London and £9,000 per year elsewhere if they live away from home.

This will be delivered through a mix of loans and grants, unlike in England where zero maintenance grants are available. Very small, limited grants are available in Scotland, but they too are currently reviewing the system.

Welsh students from the lowest household income will receive the highest grant – £8,100 in their pocket, and more in London. Our estimates suggest that a third of full-time students will be eligible for that full grant.

Furthermore, our data shows that the average household income for a student in our current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year in their pocket.

However, potentially the most radical element of our reforms is to provide equivalent support for part-time and postgraduate students. Wales will be the first in Europe to achieve this. For the first time, part-time undergraduates will receive similar support for maintenance, pro-rata to their full-time counterparts.

She sets out how this fits in with Liberal Democrat principles:

My party, the Welsh Liberal Democrats, have been consistent in our view that high living costs, not fees, are the greatest barrier for students. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has also argued that governments should focus on maintenance costs rather than fees. It’s what most benefits students and society. I am proud to put those principles into practice.

You can read the whole article here.

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5 Comments

  • Sue Sutherland 16th Jul '17 - 1:20pm

    I think it’s brilliant that Kirsty is delivering a package which will enable the poorest students the most. I do hope the rest of us will follow her lead.

  • David Becket 16th Jul '17 - 4:00pm

    Vince looks as if he is going down a similar, but not identical path, for all in skills training and education, including mature students. We should be able to recover, pity we did not think of it earlier.

  • The omission of any statement about affordability, which would seem to indicate that Wales can afford this (just like Scotland can afford it’s system) because of the generous payments from Westminster…

  • Peter Hirst 17th Jul '17 - 4:01pm

    sounds like an excellent idea

  • ‘the generous payments from Westminster’. Yeah, we’re all bathing in state-funded milk and honey here! I think, Roland, you’ll find it’s economics: you have £X and choose to allocate so much to education, so much to health… That and only having a total population of 3m with around 200,000 of student age (don’t know how many actual students).
    Of course, if the British economy wasn’t so massively skewed towards London and SE England, we might not be the charity case you seem to be implying.

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